Are Your Heroes TRULY GREAT?: How to Choose and Select the Best Heroes
Stop for a moment and ask yourself the question, who is your hero, your exemplar, your mentor? Who inspires you and influences the decisions you make? If I were to ask this question to a group of young men and women the answer would no doubt vary depending on their personality, interest, spiritual level, etc.
What makes a man or women great? What defines an individual as successful? What factors produce happiness and fulfillment?
A long while ago, my father asked my family a question that has impressed itself upon my mind over and over again. He introduced the question by asking, “Who is the happiest person alive?” Naturally, our answer was God. He then soberly asked the thought-provoking query,
“Do you really believe that God is the happiest person?”
Pause for a moment and consider, do you honestly believe this? Do you literally believe that God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ are more happy, filled with joy and satisfaction, than any other person alive on the earth today? If you truly hold this view, how does that change your decisions and worldview?
Back to the subject of heroes. If God is our ultimate example and His happy life is our ultimate goal, logically any other heroes or heroines must point back to Him. A favorite quote of mine, originates from an author of young men’s historical fiction during the 1800’s.
“To be a true hero you must be a true Christian. To sum up then, heroism is largely based on two qualities- truthfulness and unselfishness, a readiness to put one’s own pleasures aside for that of others, to be courteous to all, kind to those younger than yourself, helpful to your parents, even if helpfulness demands some slight sacrifice of your own pleasure. . .you must remember that these two qualities are the signs of Christian heroism.” – G.A. Henty, author of historical fiction for young men
I would now like to share two examples.
Prophet Joseph Smith
[pullquote3 align=”right” textColor=”#000000″]Joseph Smith did the greatest amount of service for man and God (excepting Jesus Christ)[/pullquote3]
I hesitated for a moment before deciding to include the great Prophet Joseph Smith. Why? In our modern culture today, we have become very commonplace and may I even suggest ignorant when it comes to our dispensation head. I was afraid that my readers would pass over this section thinking “He is already a great hero of mine.”
One of the most often quoted, but forgotten, tributes to the Prophet is included in our Doctrine and Covenants.
“Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it.”
Herein we are told that Joseph Smith did the greatest work for our salvation than any man except Jesus Christ.
What is service? Service is doing God’s work.
What is God’s work? To bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man, i.e. man’s salvation.
In other words, Joseph Smith did the greatest amount of service for man and God (excepting Jesus Christ).
It would take more time than is allowed for this blog post to chronicle even a brief synopsis of Joseph Smith’s character and deeds. His example is highly pertinent to youth today. It is one of my greatest regrets that almost no one has truly studied his life or the books authored by Him.
How many of us would jump at the chance of reading direct words written by Jesus Christ while he was on earth, without coming through a second person? Wouldn’t we eagerly raise our hands to study such teachings? Why do we not jump with the same eagerness to read the direct words of the 2nd greatest, Joseph Smith? How is it that we have not read his direct teachings? I myself could greatly improve in this area and pay more heed and reverence to the instruction given us by this great Prophet.
I would highly recommend the following books for further study on the Prophet Joseph Smith:
Who can justly say aught against Joseph Smith? I was as well acquainted with him, as any man. I do not believe that his father and mother knew him any better than I did. I do not think that a man lives on the earth that knew him any better than I did; and I am bold to say that, Jesus Christ excepted, no better man ever lived or does live upon this earth. I am his witness. (Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, 2d ed., pp. 702–3)
Pilgrim & Puritan Fathers
The Lord has often told us specifically who the heroes and anti-heroes are. Several places in scripture, He has placed his divine approval on the Pilgrim, Puritan and other founding colonists of the United States. (1 Nephi 13:10-16) Modernists often turn up their noses and look condescendingly down at these men and women, criticizing them as harsh, strict and extremist.
However, when one studies the original history and the blessings the Lord poured out over them, you will find that the history we have been fed is NOT history. These faithful men and women deserve to be classified among the “founding fathers” and “founding mothers” of the United States. Their chronicles teach us the importance of scripture, the essential role of fathers and mothers in the home, the power of multi-generational vision and the legacy of sacrifice.
In the Doctrine and Covenants the Lord called the Puritan founders of Salem, Massachusetts a treasure. (D&C 111:9-10) Take a moment to read how the Lord refers to our day. It may surprise you. (Isaiah 3, Mormon 8, 2 Timothy 3:1-7) Why do the Puritans receive praise while we gather condemnation? If we have truly “progressed far beyond their culture”, why are we not receiving the prosperity, blessings and societal strength that our founders did? I hope by now you are asking questions and pondering what pieces of our history have been lost.
If you are interested in learning more, please take a look at the documentary For Our Day: Covenant on the Land. This documentary is packed with answers to these questions. It may change your understanding of our Founders and their connection with the Book of Mormon.
Who is YOUR hero?
The Lord told the people of Israel to remember, remember, REMEMBER the great deeds of their fathers in the past. (Deuteronomy 32:7) Author Vicki Jo Anderson once said “To remember our history is to restore righteousness.” We hold up heroes and remember our history to remind us of our covenants, mission and the true path towards exaltation.
Who are your heroes? How do they reflect Jesus Christ and lead you towards salvation?